Dr. Ada Jane Healy-Andrews

Walk with the Dead: Fargo's Riverside Cemetery

Dr. Ada Jane Healy-Andrews

Fargo, North Dakota 58105, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University


Born in Michigan in 1852, Ada Jane Healy, along with her sister Emma, were orphaned when Ada was only 7. Ada’s mom had died in child birth and her father lost his footing moving from car to car and was killed under a train. Ada and Emma grew up in Ann Arbor, MI with their maternal grandmother, Subniet Disbrow, and their widowed Aunt Abigail.

Perhaps it was growing up in a college town, perhaps it was Subniet’s work as a nurse, perhaps it was that Aunt Abigail was courted by and later married historian Charles Adams (later president of the American Historical Association and Cornell Universisty); whatever it was the drove her, Ada attended University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She became a physician.

Ada met and married Albion Andrews, a classmate, in 1879. Albion had tried his hand at farming in Nebraska after receving an Ag Bachelor’s from Cornell, but pulled up roots and headed back to college in the mid-1870’s following a grasshopper plague and stifling drought.

After school and internships in New York, the couple, along with sister Emma, came to the Wild West in May 1880. They settled outside of Fargo on land along the Maple River just northeast of Mapleton. Ada would become North Dakota’s first practicing female physician. The couple farmed, practiced medicine, raised a family, and ran a drugstore in Mapleton before, in 1898, Albion became ill and the family moved to Fargo.

Ada Jane Healy-Andrews made her mark on Fargo after Albion’s death in 1904, becoming a founding member of Unitarian Church, whose original building still stands and is used as Fargo’s Unitarian Church at 121 9th St S. She was also a founding member of Fargo’s Fine Arts Club, the building at the SE corner of Island Park.

Fun Facts: Ada's son Mark Sr., at rest here with her, was Cass County Sheriff during the prohibition and ran rum runners out of Fargo. He took on this position, however, only after going to college in New York to study voice and sing with the Metropolitan Opera!

Ada's grandson and Mark's son, born in 1926, is former U.S. Congressman Mark Andrews, Jr. Mark's daughter, Sara, graduated from Michigan Law School in 1977, exact 100 years after Ada and Albion graduated from Michigan Medical school.


  1. Fargo, Forum Communications Company 101 5th Street North, and Curtis Eriksmoen. “Did You Know That: From Orphan to Physician, ND’s First Female Doctor,” November 22, 2015. http://www.inforum.com/news/3888086-did-you-know-orphan-physician-nds-first-female-doctor.

  2. Ancestry.com. Year:1870; Census Place: Ann Arbor Ward 6, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: M593_707; Page: 110B; Image: 151179; Family History Library Film: 552206.

  3. Ancestry.com. U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Collection Number: G&M_95; Roll Number: 95.

  4. Ford-Dunker, Russell. “Dakota Datebook.” Prairie Public Broadcasting. Mark Andrews’ 80th, May 19, 2006. http://www.prairiepublic.org.

    5. The Michigan Alumnus. 8th ed. Vol. 83. UM Libraries, 1977.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Walk with the Dead: Fargo's Riverside Cemetery


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